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Immigration Issues come to School District

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State Senator Slights Top Truckee Students
On February 8, principal of Truckee High School Jay Cunningham took two of his students to Sacramento to meet with Republican State Senator Dave Cox. According to a February letter written by Cunningham, the meeting ended abruptly when Cox said to the students, 'Well at least I am not one of the ones that wants to round you all up and send you all home, because you know there are plenty of them.' Both of the students are seniors at Truckee High School and, this month, are slated to graduate among the top 20 students in their class, neither are U.S. citizens.

The students met with Dave Cox in order to discuss the California Dream Act, legislation proposed by State Senator Gil Cedillo. If the bill becomes law it will allow students without citizenship documents to apply for financial aid.

According to a letter Cunningham wrote to the Sierra Sun in February, Cunningham explained to Senator Cox that Bersabe Morales and Karla Marcial had traveled to the capitol to 'be part of a discussion that could have a big impact on their lives.' Without citizenship documentation Marcial and Morales will have trouble paying for college, despite the fact that they have done well in high school.

According to Cunningham’s letter, Cox asked the two students, 'So you’re illegals?' He then asked how long they had been in the United States, and said 'he was absolutely against financial aid for students without documentation.' Cox then said, 'We are not adequately serving our own citizens.'

'(Cox) just wanted to give green cards to people to work, not to study,' Morales said, '(Cox) was very rude. He was really saying, ‘We just want you to work.’ Basically that’s what he meant.'

'We were waiting for him to support us and to say something positive,' Marcial said, 'We weren’t expecting (him to say that).'

Marcial and Morales had traveled to Sacramento not only to meet with Cox, but also to participate in a Town Hall discussion between state lawmakers and students from all over the state. The title of the discussion was, 'California and Immigration: An Examination of Public Policy and Student Perspectives.'

Dave Cox is senator of California’s first district, which includes the Truckee Tahoe area.

Bersabe and Morales are considering attending Sierra College, and are hoping for the Dream Act to pass.

California Law Allows Undocumented Immigrants In-State Tuition

On May 27, more than 300 Latino students traveled to the PlumpJack conference room in Squaw Valley for an informational meeting about California Assembly Bill 540. The evening before, roughly 100 of their parents attended a similar meeting at the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center in Truckee.

Since 2001, AB540 has allowed undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at any of California’s college campuses as long as they meet certain requirements. Students who hope to take advantage of the bill must attend high school in California for at least three years, graduate from a California high school, and also be seeking legal citizenship.

The difference between resident and nonresident tuition can be significant, especially for students living near the poverty line. At California Community College campuses such as those in Rocklin and Truckee, non-resident tuition for a full load of courses amounts to $4,320 per year. Students eligible for in-state tuition pay approximately $480 for the same number of courses.

Representatives from Sierra College attended both meetings. They encouraged students to take advantage of the bill, urging them not to be intimidated by the application process, and stressing that college provides a path to higher-paying careers. As Sierra College academic counselor Reyes Ortega put it, 'Está la puerta.' (Here’s the door.)
Eight other states have passed laws similar to AB540.

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February 14, 2019